Swanage outdoor learning center could be lost to accommodation following Covid challenges

An outdoor center in Swanage, which introduced thousands of young people to the Dorset coast and countryside, could be converted into five homes.

The Chatsworth Center in Ulwell Road was used as a residential learning center – but like many others was badly affected by Covid restrictions, closing in January last year.

Now the owner, Mr Robert Camping, has applied to convert the five Edwardian guest houses into homes and has asked Dorset Council to make the change from business use to domestic use.

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The Center for Coastal Discovery and Field Studies has been able to accommodate up to 200 students as part of the Allnatt Group with its facilities including a heated outdoor swimming pool.

The group had another center on the Isle of Wight, but that too was forced to close due to Covid.

The largest of Swanage’s five guest houses, Cliff House, could accommodate 62 students and six teachers, Coast House could accommodate 51 students and 5 teachers; Beach House 43 students and 5 teachers and Bay House and Seaside House can accommodate 34 students and three or four teachers.

The application to Dorset Council for the change of use says the center was last used in January 2021 and is currently vacant.

All staff were made redundant at the time of closure having been unable to open since the first lockdown in March 2020.

Bournemouth planning consultants Ken Parke say the buildings vary in size from a gross interior floor area of ​​829 square meters to 365 square meters.

The site was marketed as six homes by Saville’s in June 2021 with an asking price in the region of £2million.

Public comment on the application, reference 2022/01256 on the Dorset Council website, remains open until Monday March 28.

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